Our guest tonight is Chiku Flynn. She was born in the Congo rainforest. For the first eleven years of her life she is raised alongside the chimpanzees her anthropologist parents are studying. When her mother died, she was sent back to the United States only to return, at age sixteen, when her father disappears.
Chiku is a Swahili name, isn't it?
In Swahili, Chiku means’ chatterbox’, the chimps call me Talk Talk.
You must know a lot about chimpanzees.
I was born in the rainforest. Me and Scals played tag and hide-and-seek right where elephants come to drink. The chimps always loved when I read to them. Scals’s favorite was Curious George. I bet you didn’t know they could understand me. My dad taught them sign language and I can speak to them as well as I can speak to you. Maybe better.
There's a lot I don't know... like this trouble you're trying to get out of.
None of this would have happened if. my dad hadn’t sent me back to the States. I know my chimps better than anyone. And my dad, well, my dad wouldn’t have done the things he did. Now my family’s in all kinds of hot water. It’s a mess, and I don’t know what I’m gonna do.
What do you mean, your dad wouldn’t have done the things that he did?
I can’t say. I can’t. He…. It’s not something I like to talk about.
Okay. I take it you won't be leaving again.
My guys are still in trouble. The civil war is still going on, and Union Miniere still wants what’s on Chimp Island. But I’m staying now. I ain’t going home. This is where I belong, and together me and the guys will win.
When you talk about the guys and family, you don’t mean your father, do you?
It’s hard for me to talk about my dad. He could be wonderful sometimes. And sometimes he wasn’t. Now I have my sister Cary and my wonderful grandmother Lucy Burchill. Besides that, Scallion, Pan, Scopes, Dora and the other guys are my family now. They need me. So much is happening in the forest. They’re still in great danger, and they need Talk Talk to stay with them.
Then we'll let you get back to it. The rest of us will have to read about it in Peter Clenott's book Devolution.
Buy Devolution, or any other Imajin Book, in August and enter to win a Kindle Fire.